Most people have heard of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a disorder that affects people in the fall and winter months when the days are shorter, there is less sunlight, and it's cold outside. People that deal with this disorder can experience a variety of symptoms. Some common symptoms include anxiety, depression, and changes in appetite.
A lesser-known disorder is “reverse SAD,” when people tend to experience the same symptoms of SAD but during the spring and summer months. While most people don't experience as severe or debilitating symptoms with reverse SAD as with SAD, it can still take a toll on one's mental health. The good news is that if you're struggling with reverse SAD, there are some things that can be done to provide relief.
Understanding Why Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder Happens
There is not a lot of information available yet as to why our brains may respond differently to distinct times of the year or different types of weather. One likely link is fluctuating levels of sunlight. For someone who struggles with typical SAD, they are likely not being exposed to the same levels of sunlight. As a result, they are not taking in as much vitamin D. Vitamin D helps to regulate one's mood and supports important bodily processes. One treatment for typical SAD symptoms is taking vitamin D supplements.
However, for people with reverse SAD, too much sun can actually be a bad thing. This is because it is disrupting the levels of melatonin that the brain is producing. As a result, their mood is adversely affected. They may feel lethargic, anxious, sad, or unmotivated. They might experience a decrease in appetite and changes in sleeping patterns.
Treating Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder
If you are someone who struggles with reverse SAD, you may dread the spring and summer months. The humidity might frustrate you, and the constant sunlight and long days may become overwhelming and overbearing. Because it is not something that you can just switch off, the sunlight can almost feel inescapable. The fact that routines often get disrupted in the summer months due to vacations and children being home from school can exacerbate the issue.
Luckily, there are some things that you can do every day to get through the spring and summer months with a lot less frustration and misery.
Tips for Dealing With Symptoms
#1. Keep your home as cool as possible: Your home should feel like a safe haven, somewhere you can go to escape the constant heat and light. Keep in mind that when you keep your blinds open, the sun comes in and can heat up the home. You might want to keep your blinds drawn and curtains closed during the day if this is something that will bother you. If you really want a complete escape from the light, you might consider investing in some blackout curtains, which make it very difficult for light to slip through. This can not only help to cool your house down and provide relief from overbearing light, but it can also help you sleep better at night.
#2. Make sure that you're eating regular, well-balanced, and nutritious meals: In the winter months, we're almost programmed to want to eat a lot. But in the summer, when it's really hot outside, sitting down for a huge meal tends to seem less appealing. This is part of why a lot of people with reverse SAD lose their appetite. Even if you don't feel like eating a ton, make sure that you are still refueling your body with healthy foods that are going to nourish you and make you feel better.
#3. Make sure that you're staying very well hydrated: Because of the intense heat, it's really easy to get dehydrated in the summer months without even realizing it. Dehydration can not only cause you to feel lethargic, but it can also take a toll on your mental health. This is why it is so important that you make sure that you're drinking water frequently throughout the day. If you know you are going to be out and about, make a habit of bringing a portable water bottle with you.
#4. Spend as much time as you can in cool, dim places: This can help you get a break from the sun and the heat, even in the middle of the day. Some places you might consider include an arcade, a movie theater, indoor shopping malls, museums, and bowling alleys.
#5. Don't forget to practice self-care every day: Self-care involves doing anything necessary to take care of yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally. It could include meditating, taking a relaxing bath, having coffee with a friend, or even just watching an episode of your favorite show.
Reverse seasonal affective disorder is not as common as typical SAD, but it doesn't mean that it can't have a real impact on a person's life. If this is something that you struggle with and you can't quite seem to find relief, make sure you talk to your doctor. They might want to prescribe you medication such as an SSRI to get you through the warmer months. Some people who struggle with reverse SAD turn to substance misuse to cope, leading to additional problems. If this is your situation, our team at The Ho Tai Way can help. Call us at (714) 581-3974 today to learn more about the services we provide.